Recently the Cantor and I spent two days at a conference/workshop on prayer. It was largely an opportunity to hear from people who are experimenting with how to express ancient feelings in new ways, such as chanting or yoga, or with how to present our familiar prayers more creatively, such as using a beautiful on-screen siddur, called visual tefilah.
But for me, the most interesting exercise by far was when we were asked to define what our goal was for a prayer service. What do we want worshippers to feel/think/get at the end of Shabbat services? And then, of course, we have to figure out how to get there. What was fascinating about this was to discover that people have so many different goals for prayer. Peace. Energy. Comfort. Inspiration. Intellectual Challenge. Connection with Myself. Connection with God. Connection with Community. Strength. Answers. This was amazing – and a bit daunting. Is it possible to create a service that does all of that? I’m going to be working on this for a while. And how about you? What would you like to get from a prayer service? Have you found it here at TBA? If so, I’d love to hear about it. If not, I’d love to hear that too. And I’d love to know if you have a sense of how the service might change to help you find it.
The restorative power of prayer has always been at the core of Jewish meaning. It has sustained and enriched generations of Jews. But today, for so many, it seems to be slipping away. It takes practice and it takes attention, but the results are transforming. I hope that we can help you find meaning in prayer, and I hope that you can help us create ever more meaningful prayer services.